The rosters for the Arizona Fall League All-Star Game, actually known as the Rising Stars Classic, were announced Monday.
First baseman Greg Bird, who is putting together a dominating performance with the Scottsdale Scorpions, hitting .349 (22-for-63), fifth in the AFL, and leading the circuit with five home runs and 14 RBIs, was not selected.
His teammate, outfielder Aaron Judge, who hit 17 homers and drove in 78 runs between Class-A stops Charleston and Tampa, was selected for the contest, which will air on MLB Network at 7 p.m. Saturday (it will also be streamed. Judge is hitting .250 (10-for-40) with a pair of homers and nine RBIs for the Scorpions.
Did Bird get snubbed? If this was a true All-Star Game, yss. But it really is more than a show for scouts and other observers, so, to me, Bird not being in the game is not a big deal. His star is rising, whether he is on TV as a “Rising Star” this weekend or not.
Bird is a legitimate rising star. He bounced off an early season back injury to hit 14 home runs between Tampa and Double-A Trenton this past season. Both he and Judge will likely start 2015 at Double-A Trenton in 2015.
So how might Judge be selected over Bird if we want to call it that? It’s because Judge is the Yankees prospect just about every talent evaluator wants to see. He has been compared to Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton by some and his power is something that is potentially something extraordinary.
So, to this corner at least, given factors that lead to an appearance in this game, Judge would be selected over Bird in this instance. Former Trenton catcher and Yankees prospect Pete O’Brien is in the game. Traded to Arizona for versatile infielder Martin Prado, O’Brien hit 33 homers and drove in 84 runs between Tampa and Trenton in 2014 and added a homer and four RBIs for Class-AA Mobile in the Arizona system before an injury sidelined him.
Both Judge and O’Brien were anointed top AFL prospects before Bird was considered. Bird also missed time and did not have the numbers some other prospects did during the regular season. Bird is certainly surpassing just about everyone in the AFL, but this “Rising Stars” affair is not all about that.
It is about power and pitching, It’s like the annual Futures Game, played annually as part of the All-Star Game functions, but on a smaller scale. There are just so many spots per organization, politics can enter, and not every future big-league star has a Futures Game appearance on his resume.
No Futures Game, as well as no “Rising Stars” contest will have any effect on Bird’s development. He began to prove just what kind of prospect he is during the regular season in the Arizona Fall League. If Bird performs during the 2015 season as he sin Arizona, he will be on the fast track to succeed Mark Teixeira as the Yankees first baseman in 2016. He is a more athletic player than O’Brien with power potential not quite O’Brien’s, but formidable.
Knowing Bird, he’ll sit back and enjoy the game, cheer for Judge and the rest of the prospects and continue focusing in how he can improve his game to achieve his 2016 goal.